I have a special friend named Sandi Thurman McCool who is a hero. She is not the beat up the bad guys kind of hero....she is much better than that....you see, she is battling and winning stage 4 breast cancer and with several other women founded "Champions of Hope" in the Dothan area. She is a phenomenal woman. She was featured recently in the Dothan Living magazine and I just felt like today was such a good day I had to post about something very positive. So, sit back and read this heartwarming story about one of the most precious women you could ever meet. "The success of “Champions of Hope,” an event held each October by the Southeast Alabama Medical Center Foundation, was personal for Sandi McCool. One of the event’s founders, Sandi, wanted to bring an event to the Dothan area which raised awareness of the importance of early detection and intervention. At the time she had been battling breast cancer for three years. At age 30, Sandi was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. After finding a lump through self breast examination, she had a mammogram and an ultrasound, followed by a biopsy that confirmed the diagnosis. She was treated in Indianapolis, where she lived at the time, and initially had chemotherapy, a lumpectomy, and radiation treatments. After moving to Dothan in the summer of 2006, Sandi had worked part-time as a nurse at Flowers Hospital for about eight months when her cancer returned in her lungs, spine, hip, and rib. She has also had another type of breast cancer in the opposite breast and cancer found in her neck muscle, with more chemotherapy, radiation, and surgeries following these diagnoses, coupled with fluid buildup on her lungs. These reoccurrences upgraded her to stage 4 cancer, but she has beaten the odds, living with it for the past three years. “It’s just kind of more become like diabetes or hypertension; it’s a long-term chronic illness you just learn to deal with,” she says. Sandi’s health hurdles haven’t slowed her resolve to educate and help others.
In 2007, the inaugural “Champions of Hope” event was held with Sandi McCool as chairperson. Three hundred participants were anticipated, but double that amount attended. The event grew even more last year, with more than 1,000 attending and $75,000 in donations raised. Sandi believes it’s important to keep the funds local, and they’ll ultimately help breast cancer patients with needs like acquiring wigs, transportation, daycare during chemo treatments, financial assistance, nurturing, and support services. “Champions of Hope,” like all worthwhile causes, is a group effort, with volunteers whose lives have been impacted by breast cancer. I know several women and a couple of men who have fought and won against breast cancer. It has amazed me at the high number of people who are touched in some way by this dreaded disease....October is National Breast Cancer Month....and if you are a woman....get a mammogram....if you know a woman....encourage her to get one. It might save her life.....it is a proven fact that the earlier the disease is diagnosed the better the prognosis.